Nursing homes in Seattle are becoming less common, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nursing homes provide care, therapy, and rehabilitation for people that need it and for a fraction of the cost of a hospital stay (though that’s faint praise). Moreover, nursing homes are temporary–despite the common misconception that these are places where you go to die or to be forgotten.

So why are nursing homes becoming a thing of the past? Here are six reasons.

1. Space

Nursing homes require a significant amount of space. Almost all nursing homes are secure facilities, meaning they’re locked down. The reasons behind this are manifold.

For starters, seniors with dementia are some of the more frequent admissions. Dementia-ridden patients are known to wander, and many notoriously wander at night. At night (at any facility), there are less staff. The reasoning behind this is obvious, caregivers, LPNs and RNs need to sleep and temporary residents should be sleeping too… unfortunately, dementia and Alzheimer’s can distort a sleep schedule and this leads to confused seniors wandering in the night. If the premises weren’t secured, you’d have seniors wandering around outside, getting lost, mugged, or worse. Fortunately, with a secure campus, you ensure your elder’s safety even if there’s an error on the part of the staff.

Additionally, nursing homes are recovery centers, so they are meant to be quiet, comfortable, and secure places for people to get back on their feet.

However, it’s for these reasons too that nursing homes in Seattle are becoming more sparse. Nursing homes take up space and the city is growing exponentially! Not only is there less space for nursing homes to be built, but it’s less logical to plug elders into busy environments.

2. Adult Family Homes

Adult family homes are proliferating in Seattle and other cities across the globe. For this reason, many nurses turn to establishing adult family homes in place of joining a nursing home.

Adult family homes are houses that are retrofitted to support seniors–complete with grab bars, wheelchair access, and other necessary attachments. These family homes are much more versatile as any home can be retrofitted and they must abide by strict government guidelines. This means, not only is this housing option safe, but there’s a great deal more flexibility, i.e. caregivers don’t need to worry about inner city traffic to get to work, instead some–and many do–live within the adult family home.

This is also a contributor to the next point.

3. Look & Feel

Make no mistake, skilled nursing facilities have taken their queue from the media, history, and popular opinions and have continued to make their walls feel less sterile like a hospital and more homey. However, because nursing homes are secure facilities and the people residing there require constant care, there are a lot of staff wandering around and tending to people’s needs. In short, it does not feel like a home.

Meanwhile assisted livings are structured like apartment complexes; adult family homes are structured to be like homes; and retirement communities range from neighborhood homes to vacation resorts. Nursing homes can’t really compete.

4. Stereotypes

For decades there has been a stereotype against nursing homes due to the conditions of nursing homes way back when. Those stereotypes had some truth to them… 20-30 years ago, but today they are unfounded.

Not only are nursing homes quality facilities, but they are also temporary, so seniors are not living there, but recovering.

Today, when people refer to “nursing homes”, more often than not, they’re actually referring to modern assisted living. Yet because skilled nursing facilities have “nursing” in the title, many people fear and dread going–despite it being a medical necessity. So despite the unfounded stereotype, it still hurts the homes.

5. Staff to Resident Ratio

This is a legitimate reason why people prefer other forms of senior care over nursing homes. The staff to resident ratio isn’t great, nor can it be expected to be. Nursing homes are meant to take in hundreds of temporary residents. Residents come and go in droves; as some heal, others return.

As a result, there have been complaints about staff acting more like robots than tender caregivers. This situation is remedied in adult family homes because, in Seattle, Washington, only 6 seniors are allowed into a home. This makes the staff to resident ratio practically equal.

Plus, many other senior care options can perform the tasks required of a nursing home, so there’s less demand.

6. Cost

Although nursing homes are one of the few types of senior housing covered by Medicare, it still costs money–on the part of the elder and the government. Quite frankly, it costs a lot of money to maintain a nursing home, more money than an adult family home, so they’re becoming less of a priority and more of a risky venture in housing–especially when so many other options can provide the care they do and then some.